Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Visit with Karl Erik Andersen, Founder of ExpectingRain.com

ExpectingRain.com was one of the pioneer Bob Dylan sites on the Web featuring all things Dylan including Dylan's influences, lyrics, records and the latest concert reviews. Essentially the site was a mashup of daily news stories and reviews, but it's now evolved to include forums and more. The Webmaster here is Karl Erik Andersen, who agreed to share a little bit about one of many fans' favorite sites on the Net.

EN: Where are you from and how did you first come to take an interest in the music of Bob Dylan?
Karl Erik Andersen: I live in North Norway and heard "Blowin' In The Wind" and "Positively 4th Street" on the radio when I was around 15. My first Dylan album was "Bringing It All Back Home", and I think I knew the lyrics by heart. It is still one of my favourite albums.

EN: ExpectingRain.com is an impressive undertaking. What prompted you to start this Dylan-themed resource?
KEA: In 1994, where I work at the National Library of Norway, we had computers and I tried out Gopher and then Mosaic. After the web server software MacHTTP, later WebStar, became available, I set up a web server on my Mac II fx desktop at work. I later bought that Mac for myself for NOK 100, and maybe I should auction it off for a fortune when the site turns 25 in five years!

Here is a snapshot of the front page in January 1997, thanks to the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/19970120191358/http://bob.nbr.no/

The content I published was the Dylan Atlas and the Bob Dylan Who's Who, which I had previously distributed by email for a few months. A few years later I moved the server to a paid hosting service in the US, and it is now served by HostGator in Houston TX.

Over the years the site has developed into a news central, and I now publish a daily set of links to items of interest, both directly and indirectly and not at all related to Bob Dylan. Most of these links are sent to me by contributors, and I select among the tips I receive. I don't have the time to read every story, and I may not agree with them either, but I trust my readers to possess both common sense and a bit of basic knowledge about Bob Dylan.

In 2004 I set up a discussion board. The initiative came from my son, and my daughter has helped with the technicalities. The board has become quite popular, with 24.000 registered users and an average of 370 posts a day. I gather it means a lot to many people. I only visit occasionally. I am dependent on the very capable moderators who voluntarily take upon them to prevent the board from turning into chaos and name calling. I and the members owe them a lot!

EN: Do you also collect his music or memorabilia?
KEA: Where I grew up, there were no organised Dylan fans and no bookstores with Dylan material, and certainly no record shops with bootlegs on offer, But after the Internet all these things came within reach. In the mid-Nineties I got quite a few cassettes by trading through the mail, and I started buying Dylan books from Amazon. Nowadays the tapes are stored in a secluded but dust-proof place, and I actually donated about 120 Dylan books to the National Library.

I try to order new Dylan material through Amazon or a Norwegian store, but make no attempt to be a completist. But it's nice to have both the CD and vinyl Bootleg Series on my special Dylan shelf. Through a very helpful reader in Berlin I even have a sealed copy of the first Copyright Collection from 1962.

EN: Why do you believe so many fans never seem to tire of Dylan?
KEA: Bob Dylan is an artist you don't tire of, or if you do tire of him, you find lots of reasons to return to the fold. He is a shape-shifter who winds his way through almost all forms of music that have ever been current in America, and you can tune into DylanRadio.com and be surprised every hour of the day.

EN: How many countries contribute to the site (including the forums)? How many of the contributors to ExpectingRain have you gotten to know?
KEA: The visitors to Expecting Rain come from all over the world. Still, most are North Americans and Europeans. A rough distribution may be 50% US, 25% UK, 15% Germany and then all the rest. I have met a few of them at concerts in Norway and the UK. Last year I attended the three Royal Albert Hall concerts, and I was pleased when people came over and shook my hand.

EN: How long do you think you’ll keep doing this? Is it still fun?
KEA: The site is now 20 years old and the 25th anniversary will call for some planning (Suggestions welcome!). Doing this is so much a part of my daily routine that I don't see how I can stop it, much like a certain artist's urge to go on the road almost 100 days a year. I will keep up as long as I feel there is a demand for this service. If the logs show a steep decline from the present 15-25,000 unique daily visitors, I may have to reconsider.

* * * *
This interview was conducted by email on December 7, 2014

16 comments:

HP said...

AND he's a very nice guy!

Anonymous said...

This is the top 3 sites i visit daily. Great work!

Anonymous said...

we must be around the same age (65) as I bought my first Dylan album Bringing It All Back Home and wore the grooves down. I still have it of course encased in partial shrink wrap. $3.79 bought at my local Woolworth's in Concord, Calif.

Anonymous said...

Keep on keeping on till the wheels fall off, without you there would be a dark hole in my daily Routine!

Anonymous said...

Truly a labor of Love...it is very much appreciated. All of the interesting "news" concerning Mr. Dylan...like the Touring info and set lists are great to view from time to time; But also; all the notices of the great musicians that pass away; Traditional types as well as individuals from the !960s scene...all those articles are incredibly important to folks like myself who have been into & with the Music History and the Living History with Mr. Dylan still recording heavily and still out there touring so graciously with great effort and Masterfull presentation. Thank you very very much Mr. Anderson. Peace to you. We saw some Powerfull;Beautifull Shows in Philadelphia a few weeks ago and it was great to see Bob again and in Top Form. Hope you can continue with your Work. All the Best in this regard.

Anonymous said...

Am 67 of age, been a loyal Dylan fan since 1968. However, I got in touch with the Internet and later your site only around 2007, but have been loyal to that, too. As I am a retired man lately, I spend more time enjoying the contributors in your site, esp. alldylan ( formerly Visions of Johanna ) than devoting to my collection of LPs of a wider range. Needless to say, I appreciate your passionate undertaking, wish you great health and cheers. Greetings from bella Italia !

John Pilecki said...

Thank you Erik for your dedication and tireless efforts. John Pilecki Pittsburgh Pa/ St Augustine Fl USA.

Anonymous said...

You know what is really nice about Karl Erik's site? The fact that there are links for music other than Dylan. Dylan is the reason I go there but, if something happened to the site, I realize that there is so much information about other artists that I wouldn't be getting. So I go there just about every day and I feel like I am in touch with all I need to be in touch with. It's like Rolling Stone magazine used to be like when they were good.

Thanks Karl Erik.

Alberto Ortega Gurza said...

Karl Erik is one of the top three or four Bob Dylan people in the world, that is, by the impact of his contribution to take Bob's name, talent, spirit, news, legacy and related content to every corner on the planet. The quality of his work is as extraordinary as his consistnency. Exectingrain.com is a must-visit site for every Bobfan out there. Thank you Karl, you're the man.

Alberto Ortega Gurza said...

Karl Erik is one of the top three or four Bob Dylan people in the world, that is, by the impact of his contribution to take Bob's name, talent, spirit, news, legacy and related content to every corner on the planet. The quality of his work is as extraordinary as his consistnency. Exectingrain.com is a must-visit site for every Bobfan out there. Thank you Karl, you're the man.

Garry Griffin said...

I have been a regular visitor to Expecting rain.com for about twenty years. Well done, Karl Erik. Might come and visit you in Norway one day, all the way from Australia.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where I can send a letter to Bob? Nothing special jut a thank for the Great Music. FGENT1110@aol.com

Niels Erik Andersen said...

You are doing a great job, Karl Erik. I visit your site nearly daily and always find interesting links. Please keep up the good work it is much appreciated and we look forward to the 25 year celebration. So far no ideas from me, but I will certainly give it a thought. Best regards from Denmark!

Maureen Duffy said...

Karl, Thanks so much for your site! It's the first thing (and usually the best thing) that I read just about every day. Please keep it going and "reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it!"

Maureen Duffy said...

Karl, Thanks so much for your site! It's the first thing (and usually the best thing) that I read just about every day. Please keep it going and "reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it!"

pete read said...

Indispensable, I make a point of always opening my amazon window(s) from Karl's site